Don't panic about AHCA (Whipple)

Fixing the glaring weaknesses of the Affordable Care Act never figured to be easy, and Republicans hardly deserve all the brickbats for supporting a bill that would supersede certain ACA provisions. For a balanced view, the following points should be kept in mind:

First, the GOP is committed to preserving the ban against denying healthcare insurance (HCI) coverage for people with “preexisting conditions.” The American Healthcare Act would permit states to apply for waivers re individual HCI policies sold on exchanges, provided that affordable HCI coverage for persons known to have very costly medical conditions is ensured by using subsidized high-risk pools. Without some such change, the individual HCI system will founder due to soaring premiums and deductibles.

Second, the CBO’s estimate that millions of Americans would lose HCI coverage under AHCA is primarily a function of repealing the ACA mandates and leaving Americans free to choose whether to acquire HCI or forego it. That’s quite a different matter than denying coverage to fatten insurance profits or skimp on government outlays.

Third, the AHCA barely passed in the House and faces a “complete rewrite” in the Senate. Senators on both sides of the aisle will have ample opportunity to challenge the provisions being proposed and suggest alternatives.

William Whipple III

This supersedes a slightly different version of this letter, which was published on May 10.

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